Pete Russell


“Now I’m able to think twice before I say anything or do anything.  I deal with each individual for where they at. So I would say that I am a different person today then what I was 17 years ago.”

Pete Russell was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend Tanjala Brewer and has been an inmate on Texas Death Row since 2003. While he was in prison, he embraced meditation and authored the book, Texas Death Row Yogi.


“A lot of guys back here try to laugh it off, but a lot of guys, grown men, are basically afraid of death, because nobody wants to die because life is for the living. A lot of guys know, or they feel in their heart, that they’ll be executed, they kind of make light of it. They talk to each other like “yeah man, what I want on my last meal” and “I’m going to give some books away”. So there’s a lot of things that are going on back here. What I try to do, what I’ve done for a couple of years, I’ll try to write letters to guys and let them know that death is not to be feared, that if you know that you going to die, that you feel you’re going to die, to let everything go, because just like you came in this world with nothing, you’re going to leave with nothing. I’ll tell them don’t become attached to nothing, just concentrate and focus on the light and ask God to have mercy on you and to accept you within His light. So that’s why I bring a calmness on death row and letting people know that everything will be alright.”

I had a total of 60 minutes with Pete for a no-contact interview, to talk about life and death and how his understanding of the world has changed since he embraced meditation. It was the first time Pete had ever been interviewed while he was in prison. There were other interviews going on at the same time and you will hear some background noise in the audio recording.

Pete Russell Short Video 1


Pete Russell Short Video 2

Pete Russell Full Audio

Discussion Questions

  • What  is the biggest mistake you have made in your life?
  • What have you learned from that experience?
  • When have you needed to ask for forgiveness?
  • Have you ever meditated?
  • What are the benefits of meditation?
  • How do you maintain your sense of peace in difficult situations?
  • Do you believe that people can change?
  • How do you trust someone again after a serious breach of trust?
  • What  do you know of the criminal justice system?
  • How do you feel about the death penalty?

Additional Resources

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